December 7, 2023
TRENTON, N.J. – A Monmouth County, New Jersey, man was sentenced today to 240 months in prison for making threatening telephone and email communications to New Jersey state officials, judges, law enforcement officers, and attorneys, and phoning in false bomb threats to local and state government offices, a police department, two law firms and a commercial establishment, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced.
Eric G. Hafner, 32, formerly of Monmouth County, New Jersey, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Michael A. Shipp on May 17, 2022, to one count of making threating communications in interstate or foreign commerce with intent to extort, one count of making threatening communications in interstate or foreign commerce, and one count of conveying false information concerning the use of an explosive device. U.S. District Judge Zahid N. Quraishi imposed the sentence today in Trenton federal court.
“This defendant repeatedly targeted public servants—elected representatives, judges, and law enforcement officials—and private citizens with threats and attempts at extortion,” U.S. Attorney Sellinger said. “He further victimized these public officials, private citizens, and the public generally by calling in numerous false bomb threats to a courthouse, a police department, law firms, businesses, and an elected official’s office. These types of threating communications are unacceptable. They cause serious harm to victims, and will be met with a swift response by this Office. This defendant has now faced justice for these serious crimes.”
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Between July 2016 and May 2018, while residing outside the United States, Hafner communicated threats to numerous individuals located in and around Monmouth County and elsewhere. The victims were elected officials, judges, police officers, attorneys, and their families. Hafner sought to extort $350,000 from some of his victims. Hafner also made false bomb threats to an elected official’s office, a county courthouse, a police department, two law firms, and a commercial establishment.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Quraishi sentenced Hafner to three years of supervised release.
U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents of the FBI, Newark Division, Red Bank Resident Agency, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James E. Dennehy, with the investigation leading to today’s sentencing. He also thanked detectives of the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office; officers of the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office; New Jersey State Police; the Bradley Beach Police Department; Fairhaven Police Department; Aberdeen Police Department; the Hazlet Police Department; Shrewsbury Police Department; the Red Bank Police Department; the Freehold Township Police Department; the Middletown Police Department; the Neptune Township Police Department; the Oceanport Police Department; the Deal Police Department; and the Manasquan Police Department for their assistance in the investigation.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ian D. Brater of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Criminal Division in Trenton and R. Joseph Gribko, Deputy Chief of the Civil Rights Division.
Defense counsel: Mark Catanzaro Esq. of Mount Holly, New Jersey